Informed consent

From epidemiology of implicit anthropologies to good co-operative governance

Principal investigator:

Ryszard Stocki, Ph. D.
MIK, Mondragon University
Phone: +34 905097

Supervised by
prof. Fred Freundlich, Ph. D.

I (Principal Investigator) am a research fellow at MIK, Mondragon University. I come from Poland where I am a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty in Katowice. My research on co-operatives in Canada is now continued at Mondragon University, where I conduct comparative studies. The tools and the conclusions from the results will be disseminated globally to all interested participants.

This research is sponsored by The European Commission as an International Outgoing Fellowship Grant No PIOF-GA-2013-623051 within Marie Curie Actions – People.

The participation of every person is voluntary. The research procedure is prepared in such a way that nobody has knowledge of who participated and the individual results of those who participated are completely confidential.
Participation in this study will not affect your employment or work status. I do hope, however, that the new awareness of the level of your competencies might inspire you to continue to grow as a person and an employee, member or owner

The purpose of the research is to find out why is it that, although people often have good intentions and ideas for their organisations, the result often is business as usual?
I assume that new organisational ideas require new forms of expertise. If they are lacking, the organisations become hierarchic organisations governed by an elite of few individuals who make most important decisions in the organisation.


Who can?
Anyone can access the tools and measure oneself on the scales of lifestyle and level of expertise on several domains on-line.

Who can’t?

Working and organiSational life is in the focus of the research so persons who do not work and do not have this kind of experience cannot participate.
Most of the research is completed on-line. Every participant will have to spend about 180 minutes to fill-in different questionnaires and surveys.


All persons who will agree to participate in the research will be asked to answer the following battery of questionnaires and tests:

  1. Personal Growth Expertise Questionnaire (comprising 44 questions regarding the past and present sources of influence on one’s personal growth, such as Parents, Peers, Schools, etc.).
  2. Business Knowledge Expertise Survey (Comprising the level of knowledge of 75 Key Performance Indicators e.g. Market Size, Frequency of Product Changes, Employee Productivity, etc.).
  3. Co-opIndex, a tool for measuring adherence to universal co-operative values and principles (Comprising of statements like 128. Employees and members are engaged in strategic planning. 167. Our co-op is socially responsible.)
  4.  Agency and dealing with stress, 21 Questions asking for information regarding one’s health.
  5.  Lifestyle Profile Questionnaire, 52 Frequency questions regarding the way of life and personal habits, e.g. How often do you: Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol? Get enough sleep? Take some time for relaxation each day?
  6. Horizontalism-Collectivism Scale, testing the personal orientation toward co-operation with 16 questions like 1. I’d rather depend on myself than others. 2. I rely on myself most of the time; 3. I rarely rely on others. I often do “my own thing.”
  7. The Active-Empathic Listening Scale, testing the communication habits with 11 questions like: I am sensitive to what others are not saying. I am aware of what others imply but do not say. I understand how others feel.
  8. Tacit Knowledge Inventory for Co-operators consists of short descriptions of 10 difficult and challenging situations in various co-ops. The respondents are asked to evaluate different solutions.
  9. Test of economic knowledge which comprises most elementary economic concepts related to classical and alternative approach to economy

When/How long?

All tools together take about 180 minutes. We do not expect them to be answered all at once. We propose to divide the participation into six 30 minutes sessions once in a week for 9 to 10 weeks.
All participants interested in discussing the results will be invited to share their doubts at the blog of the studies

Participants may find out how the co-op membership and work are reflected in daily practice.
Every participant may gain unique knowledge about their personal strengths and weaknesses. We view personal development, communication skills, economic and business literacy as well as knowledge of co-operative management as domains of expertise that can and should be constantly developed as a result of deliberate practice.

Most of the tools have not been used before. Testing them and giving feedback on their usefulness and improving them may allow other co-ops to use the tools. In this sense, participation in the research may be a good instance of the principle of co-operation among co-operatives and thus influence the whole co-operative movement. Since the movement plays an important role in the community, indirectly this participation may influence the whole society.
This research may also have an important impact on management science by further supporting Erdal’s and Freundlich & Gago’s research regarding the influence of co-operative membership and work in every day’s life. We expect that many of the results can be generalized to other values-based organizations.


As with any psychological tools, the diagnostic questionnaires confirm what was known to the respondents before, but it may happen that the test results are surprising and unexpected. Although the questionnaires do not evaluate the persons, but rather their expertise and behaviours the results may cause some distress and discomfort. For this reason, different forms of feedback including personal consultations are planned in the research.
The organisational results, if low, may undermine the trust toward the CEO or management team. This is why the organisational report will be presented only to the executive team, and the team will have the freedom to decide when and how to disseminate the report among the members.
As many studies have shown diagnosing the organisation may raise hopes that further actions will be undertaken. This research project may also raise such hopes, and if no actions are planned and undertaken afterward, the participants may feel disappointed and reluctant to participate in such initiatives in the future.
Lifestyle Questionnaires, Personal Growth Questionnaire, and other tools may tackle issues very sensitive to the respondents regarding their religious practices or lifestyles. For this reason, participants will have the right not to answer a particular tool or particular question. In every tool there is one option: “I’d rather not answer” which allows one to skip the question.
Personal expertise in many aspects of organisational life might be particularly sensitive information. For this reason, individual data will be secured on a server independent of the co-operative, and individual reports will be sent to an email address indicated by the respondent. If necessary, the reports may be printed and sent to participant’s private address.
If new information arises during the study, regarding the measured values or tools used, it will be communicated to let the participants reassess their willingness to participate in the research.
Although fictitious and using names of non-existent persons and institutions, Tacit Knowledge Inventory for Co-operators is based on real problems and situations. They were elicited from experienced co-operative developers and later transformed for the purposes of the tool. If the change of identifiers is insufficient, and a co-operative considers a description to be revealing negative information, such question will be further transformed or removed from the tool.
There may be a potential risk of not participating in the final workshop. The colleagues or management may view such lack of participation as a lack of engagement, but this should not be riskier than other absences in common undertakings, particularly if an excuse is expressed.
There may be the unlikely possibility of risk(s) the Principal Investigator does not know about at this time. If such risks appear, the participants will be immediately informed about them.

No information directly identifying any participant of the research will be available. No names or other personal data are collected. The only information that may be identifying is the e-mail address but if you wish you may use e-mail addresses that does not contain your real name.
In case of small co-ops, some demographic information may be indirectly identifying a person. For instance, if there is only one female manager, filling the two demographic fields may lead to the respondent. However no single data will be presented on any occasion, and only the Principal Investigator will have access to all the data except results of the Co-opIndex.
According to the Licence Restrictions of the Co-opIndex, all the answers, and the demographic information have to be accessible to the members of the research team of the Impact Co-op, who is the owner of the tool.
I will be collecting demographic information about gender, membership in the co-op, age (range), education, tenure (range), job profile, professional expertise.
Will the data be kept confidential?
Except for the results of Co-opIndex, only the Principal Investigator will have access to all raw data gathered in this research. Any reports, papers, presentations, etc. will only use aggregated data where no individual responses are presented.

Regarding the names of the co-operatives participating in the research, they will be revealed only with consent from the co-op. Prior to the consent, all the text of the paper or presentation and the context of its placement will be presented to the co-op’s management team.

It should be noted that participation in this research may be perceived positively by the co-op’s stakeholders and may serve to improve positioning of the co-operative.

How will data be kept secure?
The data will be kept on a server of Web Hosting Solutions, a private company in Poznań, Poland, where the LimeSurvey Application for the whole research is installed. The subdomain of the research is a part of the website, where all information about the research is accumulated. The data are protected by a password for the application. The Principal Investigator is both administrator and user of the software. The data will be stored for ten years at this server.

Dissemination of research results:
Once all the data are collected and analysed for this study, I plan on sharing the information with the research community through seminars, conferences, presentations, journal articles, etc. The results of this research will also be posted at the web page of the research: All the places are public domain and can be accessed for free.
Dissemination of research results to participant
The participants are invited to participate in the development of the tools their testing and finally in participating in the research. The web page presents all the general knowledge about the tools and the theoretical assumptions of the research. The blog allows participation and discussion of the results and tools. The specificity of the research is that each participant receives an individual Feedback after filling in the questionnaire. Sensitive information regarding the results concerning the co-operative will be available from the co-operative management team who will decide on the participants’ access to the study results. The management team will be encouraged to share openly and discuss the results with all participants. Principal Investigator will conduct a webinar or seminar to discuss the results with the team.


No compensation is available for the participants.

Participants are free to withdraw from the research study at any time without penalty.
If a person wants to withdraw from the study and wants to remove the data, all the data related to a given person will be deleted. Request for such a removal has to be written from an e-mail address that would not allow identification of the participant.
One can withdraw and discuss limitations relating to a) withdrawing from the study, and b) the removal of personal data from the study by writing an e-mail to

On the web page and blog: I explain the theoretical assumptions of the research. The participant may also contact me personally by e-mail ( or by phone (+34 638 905 097), and I will clarify any issue and answer any questions throughout the course of the study.

Early conceptualization of the research was also presented and it is available here.

Web by Marta Iwanicka